Wednesday
Mar
2013
27

It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring Corey Barker!

by Brad Moore  |  17 Comments

The Longest Exposure: The Artist Is The Camera

Hi everyone! Corey Barker here to share with you a behind the scenes look at my recent illustration and how artists must observe and interpret similar to the way a camera does. I have always been fascinated with photography and how a camera captures an image. The word photography itself means to draw with light. A photographer determines, by way of the settings on the camera, how much light will enter the lens and the glass in the lens will bend those light waves into focused beams which will then hit the film at the back of the camera for a specified amount of time burning the image into the film. Of course, that was in the old days of film photography. Today the process is very much the same however instead of the light hitting the film directly it hits a light sensor which then goes through a computer processor to generate the image you see on the screen.

As an illustrator I look at creating images in Photoshop the same way. It is quite literally painting with light and as much as I enjoy shooting images, I enjoy creating them much more. Now that certainly doesn’t mean I don’t combine photos with illustrated elements but there is something to be marveled about the way the mind perceives light that makes creating the image that much more intriguing to me. Observing both in reality and in photographs the way light behaves on various surfaces and reacts as it bounces and reflects off objects affecting the way they are perceived. All we see in the world is merely reflected light at varying wavelengths. The funny thing is that color is purely a mental construct. It does not exist in the physical world.  The green grass, the blue sky, the red fire truck all appear that way because our brains process those wavelengths of light that are reflected off of them and generate what we see as color. It was when I learned this very concept in art school that I realized how gullible our visual system could be and how artists can exploit this to recreate reality.


The finished Iron Man piece that I’ll be showing the making of here

Throughout the history of visual art there have been numerous tools for the artist to convincingly recreate reality such as paint, charcoal, and ink among others but none have given artists the power to recreate what we see more than what we have now in this digital age. It is a remarkably exciting time to be artist. While many still endure with creating convincing pieces with paint and other traditional media programs like Photoshop have allowed artist to bend and manipulate light itself to create convincing representations. The difference is that digital art is transmitted light whereas traditional methods use reflected light. Reflected light, however, has its drawbacks as it limits the spectrum of light visible to humans. This is why a vibrant image on your computer screen does not look he same when you print it. Though print technology has dramatically improved over the years it still not quite as vibrant. I know several artists that will still draw there pieces traditionally like a pencil sketch and then scan it into a computer and render it digitally using Photoshop or Painter. It gives them more options, more vibrant color, and digital is much more forgiving.

These are the things I think about when I create a new piece. I want to manipulate light to create the illusion of something recognizable. Photoshop gives me the means to do that. Which brings me to my latest piece. Everyone who knows my work knows how much of a movie fan I am. With the wave of great superhero movies I have been taken in with the character of Iron Man and I wanted to create a version that I had never seen before. I looked around on the web and saw some really impressive fan art but all were created from referencing a photo or scene from the film. That to me is just mimicking reality and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. I wanted to create something unique. So I had to come up with a concept first. I wanted to portray Iron Man in a very aggressive way and I knew I wanted it to be in a cinematic widescreen format. So jumped into Photoshop and started sketching away. Since I use a Wacom tablet I just sketched it directly in Photoshop. Once I had the idea in place I needed to seek out reference images. I needed to know how the component parts looked from different angle and I needed to know how light effected the various surfaces. So I did a Google image search and found several images that were very helpful. Some were close to the positioning I wanted but not quite so I knew was going to have to get creative. Funny enough I also found images an Iron Man action figure toys that proved to be quite helpful with positioning.

So now I had my basic sketch and reference images and was ready to dig in. I started by using the pen tool to create basic shapes of each of the elements that made up the overall Iron Man suit in the pose I wanted and giving them a basic color fill keeping each element on its own layer. Then this is where the fun really starts. Where you have start shading and applying light effects to cross that line from flat 2D to realistic 3D. I made a conscious choice not to use Photoshop 3D in this image as I wanted to really see how real I could get the image to look. First thing to consider is proportion, when you creating something based on reality the proportions have to be as close as possible. Even an untrained eye can look at an image and feel like something is off without knowing what it is. Creating the paths and getting the proportions sorted took the better part of a couple hours. Did I mention that patience is a big part of the process? Anyway once that is done then I turned each shape into a layer element filled with the flat base color.

Next I referred to the images I had for lighting reference as I used the dodge and burn tools to add basic shading to each shape. Bearing in mind the overall light source I wanted in relation to the subject as each object will reflect that light and cast shadows on each other. Not to mention the light that would be emanating from the eyes, chest plate, and the palm of the hand. All these elements seemed to fall into place quite nicely and after about 5 hours of shading, I had a pretty solid three-dimensional object starting to emerge. I still had a long way to go. The video below shows a quick example of the shading process in action and how I was able to get a polished look on the metal surface.  This gave me a good idea of the result I was seeking and knew this was going to work so I was more confident about proceeding forward.

After seeing the shading would work well I proceeded to render more areas. My process, however, tends to have me jump around so I eventually moved on to another part of the subject and would get back to render more later. I wanted to see how the eyes were going to work out. So in the next video here you can see how I utilized layer styles to achieve the glow from the eyes and how I added reflected light elements on the metal surrounding the eyes. This is when I start to see the realism start to take shape.

Now one of my most favorite parts of the image is the area around the neckline. I took some license and added a carbon fiber base and then built metal parts on top to help shape the neckpiece and other support parts under the chest plate. This was an afterthought because I had the neck drawn out as simple overlapping pieces but I saw another Iron Man image online that showed this look and knew I just had to add that. Took some time as I had to basically redraw that area but the result was worth it as you can see here.

After finishing the shading and other elements the suit looked really good. However it still looked like a nicely rendered toy. It was too clean! I really wanted this to have some scratches and battle damage to really add the extra bit of realism, not to mention adding other physical elements and atmospheric lighting effects. I also noticed that with the proximity of certain elements and being metal it stands to reason that these would reflect each other in a rather subtle way. So I came up with a quick and clever solution. Using the Smudge tool I sampled the color of an element and then, on a new blank layer, I dabbed the color and then smeared it with the Smudge tool giving the illusion that it was a soft reflection on the surface. I proceeded to do this all over in areas where there might be a reflection. This proved to be quick and easy with a very convincing result.

Now finally there is the issue of the scratches and battle damage. For that I have made an exclusive video on how I did those finishing touches over at my site CoreySBarker.com. You can see how I created the effect using custom brush effects and how I put the background and flare effects in to finish off the image.

Clearly there is more going on then what I can explain in one blog post and a few videos but just wanted to give you a good overview of how something like this comes together. In the end the final image ended up being comprised of about 200 layers and weighing in at about 1.17GB file size. Cumulated time of completion was about 12 hours. As I mentioned, no 3D was used at all and the photo used in the image are the clouds in the background and even those were greatly modified.

So there is a little peek behind the curtain inside the mind of a Photoshop freak! I am always driven by the idea of can something be done or not. Make no mistake, I have ventured into pieces that have turned out to be miserable failures but always leave with something I can use. It all depends on how you look at it. Not everything is going to go the way you want it too. The same could be said for photographers. Not every idea or shot is going to come out the way you plan but you move on and make it work the next time. I have found that sometimes if I am well into a piece and I am just not feelin it, I will save the file and archive it away and not look at it for days or even weeks. Then I will go back in with a fresh pair of eyes and a different mindset and I will be inspired once again with something new or it will be a dead end. I have many projects that are at various stages of completion and they may be completed later down the road or they won’t. I just know that I have to have the right head to make it happen. This is the blessing and curse of being an artist. Like a camera, the digital artist is painting with light. It’s just a slower process…it is the longest exposure.

You can see more of Corey’s work at CoreySBarker.com, and keep up with him on Facebook and Google+

Tuesday
Mar
2013
26

I’ve Got Two Free Tickets To My New “Shoot Like a Pro” Tour

by Scott Kelby  |  105 Comments

Hi Gang (and happy Tuesday)!

If you’re anywhere near Philadelphia or Chicago and you need to be at my new “Shoot Like a Pro” Tour but for whatever reason, you can’t afford to go, I’ve got two-tickets available for each city.

Just leave me a comment below, which city you want to attend, and I’ll pick two winners in each city tonight (and then I’ll see you there). For more info about my new tour, click here or if instead you want to watch my one minute and 52 second video explanation of what the tour is all about, then click here. 

See you out on the road (of course by that I mean out on tour, not actually standing in the road). ;-)

Cheers,

-Scott

Monday
Mar
2013
25

Some Shots From the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

by Scott Kelby  |  24 Comments

Well, they’re actually shots from practice runs and qualifying from Saturday,  the day before the race (The Grand Prix race was Sunday but I wasn’t able to shoot the actual race because of a prior commitment on Sunday). I was shooting for the City of St. Pete’s Website (thanks to my buddy Andy Gregory who got me the gig, and covered the race on Sunday).

Above: Here’s the rear view taken down low (on my knees) from a break in the retaining wall heading into the straightaway. Specs: Nikon D4 at f/4,  at 1/2000 of a second at 200 ISO. Using a 400mm f/2.8 lens at f/4  because I was using a 1/4 tele-converter, so it was actually taken at 550mm. 

Anyway here’s a few shots from the day (and I’ll leave the rest to the captions).

Above: Here’s an overhead panning shot taken from up in the control tower at the airport (more on this in a moment). Specs: I lowered the shutter speed to 1/80 of a second (to get wheel spin — if I can clearly see the wheels I switch to these specs — if the car is more straight on, then I got to f/2.8 or f/4 and use a really fast shutter speed). The f/stop had to be increased to f/11 to get a proper exposure. 

 

Above: Here’s a perspective you don’t always see — thanks to Rob Neff  for the first time ever we got access to the 360° walkway around the control tower at Albert Whitted Field (the race runs over one of their runways), which is where I got this tight-in shot with my 400mm. 

Above: When I was up on the airport control tower I spotted a photo hole (official large cut-out area of the fence for media photographers assigned to the event) I had never seen before and I headed over there and was able to get this low perspective as the cars were coming out of a hairpin turn heading to the straightaway.

When cars are coming straight toward the camera like this (where you really can’t see the sides of the wheels), I tend to shoot at a high-shutter speed and freeze the motion. Not every shot has to have spinning wheels,especially since when the car is coming directly at you the tires don’t have visible treads to spin like normal cars (see popular F-1 shooter James Moy here, here, here and here). That being said, I have hundreds (actually probably more than 1,000) of spinning wheel side shots from this race (as seen in the third shot from the top). 

Above: I put on my 1.4 tele-converter to get this rear view of my favorite car (looks wise), as they came out of that hairpin and started down the straightaway VERY close to the wall. 

 

Above: Between the morning practice runs and the qualifying runs in the afternoon they had a “Historic Sportscar Racing” session where I got this shot. 

Above: Another shot from the “Historic Sportscar Racing” session. 

Above: Rob got this iPhone shot of me from up on the Control Tower (thanks Rob!). 

Thanks for letting me share these, and here’s wishing you a kick-butt Monday (even though I know that’s an oxymoron). Cheers,  –Scott

Friday
Mar
2013
22

This Can’t Be a Good Photo, Because…

by Scott Kelby  |  79 Comments

…I’ve read enough from people in forums on the Web who have convinced me this isn’t a good shot because….

  • (a) It was taken with a 6-megapixel consumer camera (the original Canon Digital Rebel) back in 2006
  • (b) I shot it with the cheap kit lens that came with the camera
  • (c) My camera was set to JPEG mode
  • (d) It was taken on a $14.95 tripod (I forgot mine at home so I had to buy one at Walmart)

I’m going back there again soon on a family vacation, but this time I’m taking:

  • (a) A Nikon D800 36-megapixel camera or my Nikon D4
  • (b) A 14-24mm f/2.8 lens that along costs more than the camera, lens, and tripod I shot the image above with combined.
  • (c) I’ll shoot in RAW mode and post-process the image in Lightroom 4
  • (d) I’ll be using an Gitzo Carbon-fiber tripod with a Really Right Stuff BH-40 ball-head and I’ll have a cable release this time

But with all that cool gear and technology, I am pretty darn certain I won’t get nearly as good a shot. There’s a lesson in there somewhere. ;-)

Have a great weekend everybody, and here’s wishing you great shots no matter what gear you’re shooting with.

Thursday
Mar
2013
21

It’s Free Stuff Thursday!

by Brad Moore  |  53 Comments

Nikon School 2-Day HDSLR Video Workshop
Want to learn the basics of HDSLR video but don’t know where to start? Check out this 2-day HDSLR Video Workshop from Nikon School that’s happening April 20-21 in Clearwater Beach, Florida! Nikon School is offering a FREE ticket ($599 Value) to the this workshop, which is right on the heels of Photoshop World. If you want a great opportunity to continue the learning experience after Photoshop World leave a comment for a chance to win this great workshop from Nikon School!

Photoshop World Pre-Conference Workshops
If you’re coming to Photoshop World in Orlando next month, you’ll definitely want to check out the pre-conference workshops the day before the conference starts! Spend the day learning Lightpainting from Dave Black, shooting a wedding with David Ziser, learning portrait lighting from Jack Reznicki, honing your compositing skills with Matt Kloskowski, or shooting a live concert with Alan Hess and Scott Diussa. There are even more workshops than these, so head over to PhotoshopWorld.com and check them out.

Plus, leave a comment for your chance to win a full conference pass to Photoshop World!

Kelby Training Live
Want to spend a day with Scott KelbyJoe McNallyMatt KloskowskiRC Concepcion, or Ben Willmore? Check out these seminar tours!

The Shoot Like A Pro Tour with Scott Kelby
Apr 3 – Philadelphia, PA
Apr 30 – Chicago, IL

Lightroom 4 Live with Matt Kloskowski
Mar 22 – Phoenix, AZ

Photoshop CS6 for Photographers with RC Concepcion
Mar 25 – Houston, TX
Apr 10 – San Francisco, CA

Photographic Artistry with Adobe Photoshop with Ben Willmore
Apr 12 – Portland, OR

One Light, Two Light with Joe McNally
Apr 24 – Minneapolis, MN

Leave a comment for your chance to win a free ticket to one of these events!

Fireside Chat: Burma: Turning the Last Page of the 19th Century with Vincent Versace
Join Vincent Versace on March 28 for a discussion on his experiences photographing Myanmar (Burma) since 2004. In his time photographing in this country, he has seen it change from military dictatorship to democracy and will be talking about his experiences along the way.

To sign up for this free event, you can RSVP on Google+ to get more info, or view it live on March 28 at 10:00am PT (1:00pm ET) on the Nik Software YouTube channel.

Winners
Photoshop World Pass
- Carrie Fleitz

Joel Grimes Class Rental
- Marcel Bauer

Kelby Training Live Ticket
- Robert Behnke

Moose Peterson Class Rental
- Holger

Frank Doorhof Class Rental
- Matthew Mellen

Wednesday
Mar
2013
20

It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring Robby Klein!

by Brad Moore  |  10 Comments

A big “Thanks” to Scott and Brad for allowing me to share this shoot with you guys. I am a music and advertising photographer currently living in Nashville, by way of New Orleans, LA. I recently had the privilege of photographing The Band Perry for the Billboard Magazine cover story. In this blog I’ll share my experience, thought process and some of the technical details behind this shoot.

Like most editorial shoots, I was given a fair amount of creative freedom. That freedom provided a great opportunity to showcase ideas and unique vision aligned with the image of the magazine and, in this case, the particular image of the talent as well. It’s someone’s job to brand the band and have them seen in a certain light so it’s always very important to understand what such branding might consist of visually. As much as The Band Perry is country, they have an edge to them that I liked and wanted to emphasize – no cowboy hats on this set!! As difficult as it is to have numerous “cooks in the kitchen” as they say, it’s important to have an open collaborative relationship with the talent, their manager, publicist, stylist, etc. that are on set.


The shoot consisted of 3 looks that I nicknamed lights, cover and fun while on set so we would all know what setup we were discussing.

Here is a breakdown of those 3 setups:

The first look, lights, was designed to be more painterly and serious than the others.
Lights required the most setup so I planned for several hours of pre-lighting and used every minute tweaking, moving and thinking. For this look we mixed constant lights and strobes.

The constant lights were Mole-Richardson 2000W Juniors. Since these lights were both part of the actual set and functioning as light sources I did a decent amount of research into what would look AND work best while keeping budget in mind. The Juniors were certainly not the most powerful lights we could have rented but their size was right and they would be close to the subjects so the lower power wasn’t going to be an issue.

For strobes we used AlienBees and focused on each band member individually giving them their own light sources. I started with one and as I tweaked the look I added one more, then one more, then another and before I knew it there was a beautiful c-stand jungle. I don’t recall exactly how many strobes we had for that look, but I remember someone behind me saying something about having 8 or 9.

Throw in some fog for atmosphere, Beyoncé blasting through the speakers, a very talented country trio and POOF! our first look is finished.

Now, the ironic thing about the setup called cover is that it did not turn out to be the cover shot although at the time I assumed it would.

When ideas were first getting tossed around for the shoot between Billboard and myself, it became clear that the cover needed to have color. For whatever reason my mind went almost straight to red then straight to a rich velvet stage curtain. After a day of searching multiple places, my buddy Shane suggested a rental house in Nashville called Drop Everything. They had exactly what we wanted.

We moved the Mole-Richardson Juniors and a few AlienBees over during the band’s wardrobe change after lights. The Mole-Richardsons were placed high and above the curtain as both a curtain light and a hair light. One AlienBees unit with a gridded large octobank was used as the key light. With the lighting scheme already determined it was only a matter of a few test shots before we had what we were looking for.

Cue Beyoncé, and we began shooting our 2nd look.

Our last setup of the day was named fun because it was the setup that we wanted to capture a very lively and energetic scene. We used the same setup from cover for this shot, just moved some of the lights around.

My vision, as I explained to Billboard, was to capture your typical brothers- picking-on-the-sister look. In case you didn’t know, The Band Perry is made up of Kimberly Perry and her two brothers Reid and Neil. When I explained it to the band they laughed and said “Oh, so just a normal day?”

The scene was of the brothers pointing the Mole Richardson at Kimberly in an annoying brotherly way and them just laughing it off. The storyline behind this image was not quite as important to me as the emotions that play along with siblings being silly together and that is what really came through.

I love what I do and I am passionate about really soaking up every experience I have and every opportunity that comes my way. I am grateful and always excited to be able to execute any job, especially ones as enjoyable as this one. The Band Perry could not be a nicer family; from their attitudes, excitement and cooperation, to their entire team on set. It was a joy to meet and work with all of them.

Check out some of the behind the scenes video from the shoot.

Behind the scenes photos by: Nathan Rocky

You can see more of Robby’s work at RobbyKlein.com, and follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

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